Hiking with an old set of ski poles can be fine and hiking poles can be found at your local outdoor store or on line. Most of these more specialty hiking or “Trekking” poles are pretty light and strong, they are also adjustable so you can shorten them for uphill and lengthen them for downhill sections and they can be shared by folks of differing heights. Pole height is best measured to mid chest or top of the pole should fit comfortably into your under arm. This height allows for support with out bending over and putting extra strain on your back or alternately having to reach too high and over extending – adjustable poles allow you to play with this interaction on various terrains finding what is most comfortable for you. Adjustable poles can also be collapsed into a smaller size for easy packing.
Compared with a hiking “stick or staff” hiking poles give you better more bilateral and ergonomic function and support, they also put more upper body movement into your hiking and thus allow you to move more of your body = greater exercise benefit. Poles are helpful on steep terrain both going up and coming down they support your lower body by providing greater multidirectional function and stability with less chance of injury. Cross-country ski racers and many other athletes hike with poles to get an upper body workout and strengthen their arm muscles and abdominal muscles. Hiking with poles is a great way to get in shape, stay in shape and explore the forests, hills and mountains in your local area.
Try it out or if you already are enjoying the benefits of hiking with poles please share your experiences here.
PS: for a great article with videos see the link below!
"Effectively Using Hiking Poles: The Gas-Brake-Coast Method," by Skip Spitzer. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/hiking_poles_technique.html, 2011-10-11 00:00:00-06.